100 Years of Hard Hats

Did you know that the Hard Hat is turning 100 Years Old this year? At HireQuest Direct, we provide all of our Field Team Members with a hard hat so they are PPE and OSHA compliant on all job sites. Here’s some history on the hard hat.

In the early years of the shipbuilding industry, dock workers in constant danger of being hit on the head – by objects dropped from ship decks – covered their hats with pitch (tar), and set them in the sun to cure.

In 1898, Edward Dickinson Bullard (of the California mining equipment firm E.D. Bullard Company) was already a 20 year veteran of the industrial safety business. The company sold protective hats made of leather. But in 1919 Bullard’s son returned home from World War I with a steel helmet that provided his dad with ideas to improve industrial safety. Bullard patented a “hard-boiled hat” made of steamed canvas, glue and black paint. That same year, the U.S. Navy commissioned Bullard to create a shipyard protective cap that began the widespread use of hard hats.

Not to get too nerdy on the issue – some interesting facts:

  • Aluminum became a standard for hard hats around 1938, except for electrical applications.
  • Thermoplastics took over in the 1950s, as they are easy to mold and shape with heat and cost less to manufacture.
  • In 1952, MSA offered the Shockgard Helmet to protect electrical linemen from electrical shock of up to 10,000 volts.
  • In 1961, MSA released the Topgard Helmet, the first polycarbonate hard hat. 1962 brought the V-Gard Helmet, which today is the most widely used hardhat in the United States.
  • In 1997 ANSI allowed the development of a ventilated hard hat to keep wearers cooler.
  • Today, most hard hats are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or advanced engineering resins, such as Ultem. Accessories such as face shields, sun visors, earmuffs, and perspiration-absorbing lining cloths could also be used;
  • State of the art attachments include radios, walkie-talkies, pagers, and cameras.

Two examples of amazing Hard Hat protective qualities:

  • ANSI Type II / CSA Type 2 hard hats meets stringent vertical and lateral impact and penetration requirements.
  • Class E (Electrical) provides dielectric protection up to 20,000 volts.
  • You’ve come along way, Hard Hat!

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